Huge investment in downtown Biloxi is now open for business - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Huge investment in downtown Biloxi is now open for business

The new Sal and Mookies restaurant opened Monday in downtown Biloxi. It represents a $2 million investment in the downtown area. (Photo source: WLOX) The new Sal and Mookies restaurant opened Monday in downtown Biloxi. It represents a $2 million investment in the downtown area. (Photo source: WLOX)
More than 100 people have been employed to work in the restaurant. (Photo source: WLOX) More than 100 people have been employed to work in the restaurant. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Before the doors can open, mushrooms need chopping, pizza sauce has to be stirred, french fries go for a dip in the fryer and glasses need filling. More importantly, more than 100 people had to be hired.

Matt Helms is a business partner with the new venture.

“We're excited to provide jobs for people who were maybe out of work or people that were not at a place where they were getting to do what they love to do,” Helms explained.

Some of those employees, like Amanda Ainsworth, were looking for a change of scenery.

“I found this and the job that is much better. It keeps me happy. I don't have to go home to my husband and complain, and it's just something that I like doing,” Ainsworth said.

Others, such as Matt Bounds, are looking to build up the bank account.

“This is my day job. My full time job is a bartender at night, so this is my day job for supplemental income and a fun way to do it, so it's good people to work for,” Bounds exclaimed.

The new restaurant is a step up in the right direction, and we do mean up. Building 23 feet above sea level was a challenge for the owners. Bruce Lacey is the managing partner.

“Basically, it was the additional cost on the initial investment we had in raising it, the challenges of contractors maybe not be as familiar with doing that work,” Lacey said.

While this new restaurant certainly improves the look of downtown Biloxi, it also improves something else; the city's bottom line, because before this, there was nothing but a slab left by Katrina.

Jerry Creel is the city's community development director.

“The city was getting about $600 a year in land taxes and nothing else. Now, we'll be able to collect sales tax revenues off of this business, a nice family oriented business,” Creel said.

At 11 a.m., a crowd was at the door, including some who were ready to try their first bite of pizza.

City officials say they hope Sal and Mookie's will act as a catalyst for other development in downtown Biloxi.

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